A spreadable paste prepared by grinding nuts is called nut butter. This product is named so on the basis of its texture which resembles butter. The product doesn’t mimic the taste and features of real butter in any other form. Some of the popular examples of this butter are- almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, macadamia nut butter, peanut butter, pecan butter, pistachio butter, walnut butter, etc. This butter is also prepared using oil rich seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seed, soybean and sunflower seed. Most variants of this paste prepared using nuts have a distinct nutritional profile and flavor, and are high in protein, and fats, with a very creamy and rich flavor.
The history of nut butter begins with peanut butter which was prepared by the Aztecs hundreds of years ago. This paste was prepared in different parts of the world at different times. It became a commercial food item in 1884 when Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, acquired patent for the paste produced by milling peanuts. Since then this paste has become an essential commodity in many European and American homes. The success of peanut butter inspired food producers around world to prepare butters using various kinds of nuts.
The nuts in the preparation of butter may be raw or roasted depending on the taste preferences of the individuals. This paste can be easily prepared at home by crushing the nuts in blender or mixer or food processor. Roasting intensifies taste of the final product, while raw nuts emanate a bland flavor. Sugar, salt and some other flavor enhancers are added to improve taste of the paste. The nuts are crushed finely if they are intended to be served in the form of spread.
Nut butter is mostly served as sandwich spread. It is served over toast, fresh fruit slices, and crackers and also added as an ingredient in some sauces and stews. Peanut butter is often added to sauces such as peanut sauce to enrich its flavor. Pastes prepared by crushing nuts are also served as a standalone snack due to their high protein content.
Types of Nut Butters and their Health Benefits
Following are some of the popular types of nut butter and their health benefits -
Peanut Butter – An edible nut butter prepared by crushing peanuts. This nut paste is used as a spread or an ingredient in some food items. "Skippy" is a popular brand of peanut butter sold across the world. Peanut butter is considered as an healthy substitute for natural butter. Peanut Butter is not true nut butter because peanuts are not nuts. Peanuts belong to the family of legumes. A paste created by crushing peanuts is still referred as nut butter because peanut resembles real tree nuts in its texture and taste.
This butter is valued for its fat burning potential and is considered effective against cancer.
Ideal way of serving - It can be added to breakfast smoothies, and wheat toasts served during breakfast.
Almond Butter – An edible paste produced by crushing almonds. It may be smooth or crunchy depending on the way in which almonds are crushed. Almond butter is considered good for those who are allergic to peanut.
This paste is high in monounsaturated fats and is a good source of magnesium, fiber and Vitamin E. Almond butter is served to athletes because almond is considered good for strengthening bones and correcting nerve and muscle functions. The nutrients are found to be effective in boosting the body’s immune system.
Ideal way of serving – A wheat toast smeared with almond butter can be served to athletes before and after workout with a banana.
Cashew Butter – An edible nut butter prepared by crushing cashews. The cashews are enriched with high protein content and vitamin B, which boosts metabolism and improves muscle and skin tone. The nutrients in this butter enhance nervous and immune systems and boost cellular health.
Ideal way of serving – A spoonful of cashew butter can be added to the breakfast smoothie to make it more interesting. It can be added to sauces served with fish and noodles.
Walnut Butter – This nut butter is enriched with omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid which helps in maintaining the arterial elasticity and it also aids in better blood circulation.
Ideal way of serving - Walnut butter can be served as a dip after blending it with garlic, lemon juice and chickpea to prepare hummus- a popular bread dip.
Pecan Butter – This paste is enriched with antioxidants vitamins like A, B, E and folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. A tablespoon of this butter serves 25% heart healthy oleic acid.
Ideal way of serving – Pecan butter is spread over pear or apple slices which is served as a snack.
Cashew butter was popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger,Hollywood star and ex-Governor of California, as a health supplement.